Maxwell Gruver.jpg

Maxwell Gruver

The investigation into 18-year-old LSU fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver's death found that he may have been forced to consume alcohol "in excess" during a drinking game, according to search warrants filed Monday. 

Gruver and other Phi Delta Theta pledges received a group text message Sept. 13 that "Bible Study" would take place that night at 10 p.m. at the chapter house, an exercise where pledges were asked questions about the fraternity and forced to drink if they answered incorrectly, according to LSU police, who are conducting the investigation.

LSU police said that several other interviews of witnesses "indicated that the pledges were forced to drink in excess."

Gruver's Sept. 14 death elicited a quick response from university officials, with a temporary shut down of all campus Greek life activities and an investigation into hazing's connection to the incident. Gruver, of Roswell, Georgia, had not completed his first month of classes. 

Warrants were obtained in the days following Gruver's death by LSU police to search the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at 23 Dalrymple Drive, the calls and texts from Gruver's cellphone, and a dorm room in South Hall.

Gruver died the day after the "Bible Study" pledge event  in what "appeared to be an overdose of alcoholic beverages," police said. 

A witness to the drinking game at the fraternity house told police that a group of members and pledges were drinking in several upstairs bedrooms the night of Sept. 13. Most people were drinking hard liquor, police said, including Gruver. 

At some point early Sept. 14, the witness said, Gruver became "highly intoxicated." The witness, who is not identified, and several other fraternity members put Gruver on a couch for the night, police said. 

The witness said that around 11 a.m. Sept. 14 he returned to the fraternity house where he and others found Gruver still on the couch with a weak pulse, and they "could not tell if he was breathing," police said. At that time two people took him in a private vehicle to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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Investigators also learned that there were several text messages sent about Gruver's condition," police said, but it's unclear when the texts were sent.

During the search of the Phi Delta Theta house, police reported seizing multiple bottles of hard liquor, a glass smoking pipe, pain relievers, security cameras, a GoPro camera, beer cans, a pledge test and various biological samples. 

The search of the dorm room yielded a bed sheet and a biological sample, but did not turn up any digital media devices, like a laptop, as initially requested in the warrant. 

Police found all of Gruver's incoming and outgoing calls and text messages from Sept. 12 to Sept. 15 when they searched his cellphone; however, the content of those calls and text messages were not revealed in the warrants.

Investigators also seized the cellphone from the room of the fraternity member who sent the group text summoning the pledges to "Bible Study," the warrant says. 

The warrants say that officers are searching for probable cause to make arrests on hazing violations, a misdemeanor. 

"Hazing sure is a potential charge that is being considered, but there are other charges being considered," said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, who's office will prosecute the case if anyone is arrested. He did not say what other charges are under consideration.

Moore said he doubts any arrests will be made in the case until all physical evidence has been investigated, which includes Gruver's toxicology report. The results of that toxicology report are expected to be released next week, said East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark. 

Moore would not give any further details on suspects or specific charges in the case, but said the investigation is "continuing to progress."

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.